Lem Satterfield

Mares to pursue Ponce de Leon?


Having vacated his WBC 122-pound belt in order to fight as a featherweight, Abner Mares could be a consideration for WBC 126-pound titleholder Daniel Ponce de Leon should Ponce de Leon get beyond unbeaten prospect Jayson Velez on March 2.

Mares (25-0-1, 13 knockouts) elected to rise into the 126-pound division after his failure to secure a unification bout with RING 122-pound champion Nonito Donaire, according to his manager Frank Espinoza, who also handles Ponce de Leon (44-4, 35 KOs).

“The WBC has been Abner’s title at 122, and it’s been a great honor to represent that,” said Ezpinoza. “As far as Ponce de Leon, he’s also a great champion and a great fighter who holds the same title at 126 pounds for the WBC.”

Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer issued a contract on behalf of Mares offering rival Top Rank $3 million for the services of Donaire, who, along with Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, said that the terms of the offer were not to their satisfaction. 

Schaefer’s 13-page offer was sent to Top Rank lawyer David Marroso, a senior attorney with the Los Angeles-based O’Melveny and Myers law firm, and would make Golden Boy the lead promoter “in association with Top Rank” with no options on Donaire.

A Southern California-based Mexican national, Mares, 27, could target Ponce de Leon, who, like Mares, represented his country in the Olympics, should the 32-year-old veteran be successful in his defense against Velez (20-0, 15 KOs) at New York’s Apollo Theatre.

“Right now, they’ve got to get over this fight with Velez, and then, I would have to discuss this with Golden Boy and Abner to see if it is something that could become a reality,” said Espinoza.

“But right now, I couldn’t tell you. We have to get past Velez, and we’re not looking past him. Certainly, it’s something that we could entertain and explore and have a conversation about after this fight.”

Meanwhile, Donaire, who is coming off third-round knockout of Mexican veteran Jorge Arce in December, appears to be headed for an HBO-televised clash on April 13 against WBA 122-pound beltholder Guillermo Rigondeaux.

Mares called out Donaire after his November unanimous decision over WBA bantamweight titleholder Anselmo Moreno (33-2-1, 12 KOs), who was dropped during the fifth round of a loss that ended his 27-bout winning streak.

During a nearly two-year span as a bantamweight, Mares twice defeated ex-beltholder Joseph Agbeko, earned a decision over former titleholder Vic Darchinyan and battled to a draw with then-beltholder Yonnhy Perez.

After defeating Agbeko by consecutive majority and unanimous decisions, the latter in December of 2011, Mares rose to 122 pounds for a unanimous decision over ex-beltholder Eric Morel in April to earn the WBC’s belt that had been vacated by Japan’s Toshiaki Nishioka.

“Abner accomplished all of his dreams at 118, and he’s accomplished all of his dreams at 122,” said Espinoza, during an earlier interview with RingTV.com.

“Now, he wants to venture into and entertain the 126-pound division, and become a three-time world champion. It’s one of the dreams and the goals that he’s always had.”



Photos by Naoki Fukuda

Lem Satterfield can be reached at lemuel.satterfield@gmail.com

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